Presenting on Sickle Cell at Conferences
Recently, I went to the American Society of Hematology’s (ASH) Annual Meeting. It was in Atlanta, and I was only given off 3 days from school, which meant I would have to get on a plane. I managed to overcome that anxiety-provoking burden and join thousands of hematologists, providers, doctors, students, and researchers all of who love working with or learning about blood disorders. There was hours' worth of sessions just devoted to talking about the latest research, treatment, and news in sickle cell. It was incredible.
Coming together for the cause
I often feel like no one but me cares about sickle cell. To the point that I’m pleasantly surprised whenever anyone else seems to be interested in sickle cell too. Of course, this doesn’t include the amazing community of sickle cell warriors I’m part of, the providers who care for my health, or the teams I work on sickle cell research with. But still, the world of people who care about sickle cell always felt so small to me. Not at ASH.
At ASH, the world of sickle cell felt massive! Speakers, researchers, and providers from all over the world came together to talk about their work related to sickle cell and why it matters. But here's the best part: I got to present my own work as well. I submitted an abstract and it was accepted to be presented as an oral presentation at the conference. Then, I even got an abstract achievement award for my work.
None of it would be possible without my amazing research mentor Dr. Patrick McGann. Like many of my mentors, he has opened doors for me I could have never imagined since my first year of medical school. He is the reason I even know what ASH is. I am also privileged enough to be an ASH Minority Medical Student Award Scholar – for 2 years running.
And to top all of that off, I got to share my own experiences of living with sickle cell anemia. There were artists with whom you could share your thoughts on health equity and personal experiences for implementing change. I told them how I live with this disease and have experienced all of the worst parts of the health care system about it. And I’ve used those experiences as motivation on my path to becoming a physician.
Looking to the future
I look forward to the day that I can tell sickle cell patients in my care that I can truly relate to what they are going through. And I think that’s part of the key to improving the health care system: having providers that have shared experiences with the patients they care for.
I’m excited to someday give back all that my mentors have given me. I take every opportunity that I can to speak up about sickle cell disease, whether it be through sharing my own experiences or presenting research. My hope is to continue to build and surround myself with people who share my passion for not just the disease but the people who are living with it. I cannot wait to go back to ASH next year and when I do I hope I’ll have more to share.
What keeps you from sharing your story?